There is plenty of talk about affordability factor when it comes to purchasing bricks and mortar. Even without the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, many people find it harder to get on the property ladder than they did in days gone by.
Last year, a survey found that first-time buyers are seven years older than the average age for buyers in the 1960s. Most are over the age of 30 and pay a deposit of around £20,000. In the 60s, the average age was 23, and a deposit cost in the region of £600.
Inflation certainly needs to be taken into account. But the increase goes some way to explaining how rising house prices have impacted the buyer’s approach to the market, both for first-time purchasers and previous homeowners.
It’s not all doom and gloom, however.
In an effort to help buyers, the government created several schemes to assist people in getting onto the property ladder. However, the sheer volume of schemes can make them slightly confusing to navigate.
That confusion is why we’re here. We’ve put this guide together to break down every government help-to-buy scheme so that you have total clarity about your options for buying a home.
Help to Buy
With deposit amounts rising, the Help to Buy scheme is designed to help buyers – whether first time or not – purchase with a smaller deposit. The scheme involves first-time buyers and existing homeowners using a deposit of just 5%.
There are some caveats, however. The purchase property must be a new-build home, and the purchase price needs to be a maximum of £600,000. If you meet these requirements, it is possible to borrow 20% of the purchase price interest-free for the first five years. To do this, you need to have a 5% deposit. Those living in London are able to borrow up to 40% of the purchase price.
The Help to Buy scheme will be live until 2023. However, from 2021, it will be restricted to first-time buyers only. The scheme is only available in England, though there are versions of it in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Find out more about Help to Buy
Right to Buy/Right to Acquire
If you’re currently a council tenant in England, Wales or Northern Ireland, you could be eligible for the Right to Buy scheme. Right to Buy sees council tenants able to purchase their council home for a discounted price.
The amount of the discount varies depending on where the council tenant lives and the type of property they want to purchase. If the tenant was living in the home before it transferred to another landlord (a housing association, for example), they could be eligible to buy the home under the Preserved’ Right to Buy or Right to Acquire schemes.
Tenants typically need to have rented from the public sector for at least three years before they are eligible to purchase under Right to Buy and Right to Acquire. The three-year period doesn’t need to be consecutive, either. Applicants will still qualify if they rented from the private sector in between renting from the public sector.
The scheme is available in Northern Ireland but is called House Sales Scheme and is aimed at tenants who rent from the Northern Ireland Housing Executive or a housing association. It’s not available in Wales or Scotland.
Find out more about Right to Buy/Right to Acquire
Shared ownership sees buyers purchasing a share of the property from the landlord and renting the remaining share. In most cases, the landlord is typically the council or a local housing association. A mortgage is required to pay for the share, which is often between a quarter and three-quarters of the property’s full value.
The rent you pay on the shares you don’t own is reduced, and you even have the option to purchase a more significant share of the property – up to 100% of its value.
While there used to be restrictions on eligibility, these have mostly been removed. You are eligible to buy through shared ownership if you have a household income of less than £80,000 outside of London and less than £90,000 if you live in the capital.
You must also be a first-time buyer, previously owned a home but can’t afford to buy one now, or live in existing shared ownership and want to move to another.
Find out more about Shared Ownership
People aged 55 and over are entitled to help from the Older People’s Shared Ownership scheme. Essentially, it’s the same as the Shared Ownership scheme, but you’re only able to buy up to 75% of your home. If you reach the 75% threshold, you won’t need to pay any rent on the remaining 25% of shares.
Find out more about Older People’s Shared Ownership scheme
People with disabilities
If you have a long-term disability, you may be eligible for Home Ownership for People with Long-Term Disabilities, otherwise known as HOLD. HOLD helps people with long-term disabilities buy any home that is for sale on Shared ownership.
HOLD is only available if the property you are interested in is part of another home ownership scheme, but it doesn’t meet your needs. Eg, you need a ground-floor home, but the only available ones are on higher levels.
Find out more about HOLD
Shared equity schemes
Shared equity schemes differ between England, Wales, Scotland and Wales, but the crux of it sees you own all of your property using a loan as part of the deposit.
The Help to Buy equity loan scheme is due to end next year (2020). It’s currently available to all first-time buyers and homeowners looking for a new home. Those using the scheme can only buy newly built properties.
There are two variations in Wales: Help to Buy and Homebuy. Help to Buy assists you with buying new-build homes to the amount of £300,000. You need to pay a deposit of 5% with a shared equity loan that amounts to 20% of the purchase price. A repayment mortgage is required to cover the remaining amount.
Homebuy supports households by providing an equity loan to help with buying an existing property. If you can’t afford to buy a property, the scheme helps you and is especially beneficial in more of the rural communities in Wales, where there are fewer opportunities to buy a home.
Scotland features two shared equity schemes: New Supply Shared Equity and Open Market Shared Equity. Both schemes are centred around first-time buyers on low incomes. However, they can help others who are looking to move, such as disabled people or people with particular needs after significant changes to their household circumstances.
Northern Ireland’s Equity Sharing scheme allows you to buy a property, which is often discounted, with a housing association or the Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE).
Starter Home scheme
One of the newer government schemes, The Starter Home scheme provides 200,000 new build homes to first-time buyers under the age of 40. The offer includes a reduction of 20% on the market price. For the discount to come into effect, homes shouldn’t be priced higher than £250,000 outside of London and £450,000 in the capital.
Find out more about the Starter Home scheme
Homes for Londoners
Homes for Londoners allows modest income earners to buy or rent at more affordable prices. The buyer part buys and part rents the property, most of which are for newly built homes – however, some other property types can be included.
Co-Ownership in Northern Ireland
New builds and older homes are eligible for the Co-Ownership scheme in Northern Ireland. You purchase between 50% and 90% of the property, which is known as a starter share. It’s possible to increase your share at any time. This is also known as staircasing. You are required to pay rent on the portion you don’t own.
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